Private Tales Of Sand & Dragonfire

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta nodded when Chaceledon finished speaking. "I just want to make sure we're not headed to the wrong place. The time cost could make the difference in whether we're able to get to Rheinhard in time or not."

She wasn't used to all these power games. Put a puzzle in front of her, and she could solve it, but having to constantly consider how an opponent or an audience might perceive her actions while solving the puzzle was... another thing entirely.

Her tribe had stayed out of desert politics for this reason, and now she was plunging headlong into them.

"We need to find a way to keep Oor from coming after Rheinhard," she murmured

As Chaceledon shifted back to human form, Seteta thought over the various obstacles they faced now. She would need to be up before dawn, to find a place for them on a caravan before all the caravans actually left for the day. She had to acquire the needed supplies for the meal options she and the healer had thought up for Chaceledon--and she had to get him to agree to it, but she thought that today's incident might go a long way toward convincing him.

"Sehejib?" she said softly once he was returned to the form she knew best. "Will you promise me that you'll eat when I ask you to? My intention is not to make you fat, I swear. I just want you to be strong enough for what we need to do."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Oor wouldn’t dare let an event in Annuakat go on without him. I was his arm candy for much of the social season; the man is too much of a braggart to let a lord or lady have such a large event without him and his pit dog. Chaceledon said with a sigh, and slowly pushed himself up again. This time, the scales fell away. It was like watching the man emerge from a pile of glittering copper scales, which rapidly vanished into dust and nothingness. He grabbed a shattered bedpost for support, swaying on his feet. He eyed the bed. “First of all we are going to need a second room.” he muttered.

He looked at her. There was a way to stop Oor from coming after Rheinhard. Well, two ways. One of which was killing the rotten old corpse. The second was something he had already proposed to her. He politely neglected to mention it, and looked down when she mentioned food. “I will try, koiros.” he rubbed at his face. It didn’t seem they were getting a reprieve.

The innkeep had enough, and stormed up the stairs. Chaceledon lifted his head and immediately straightened up. He looked every bit a king, even a pale and sickly one. “We need another room. Charge this one to the estate of Witherhold owned by a wraith named Oor. He will take the problem away.” he said sharply over any enraged muttering. “And I want another bath.”

“If I find out you’re lying to me, dragon, I’ll have your head on the mantel!” the innkeeper snarled. “I have a right mind turn you out as it is! Look at this mess!”

“I once fed a man his own intestines while he still breathed because he had crossed me. The trophy I take your children will be alive to remember.” Chaceledon’s voice was dark, dangerous. The innkeeper muttered something about the room down the hallway, and beat a hasty retreat. Chaceledon sagged against the bedpost. “Klaus’ bragging is finally good for something.”
he sighed and rubbed at his eyes.

Seteta
 
Seteta Becomes Conniving New

Seteta

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Seteta saw the look in Chaceledon's eye, knew that he was thinking again of what he'd asked her to do when they returned through the Falwood portal stone. It had, in all honesty, not been far from her mind, but it was not a burden she felt able to bear yet.

And, selfishly, she did not want to bear it, At least not yet. She did not want Rheinhard or any of the Volkers in the back of her mind constantly, and especially not while she and Chaceledon were still so early in their relationship.

She was relieved that Chaceledon did not actually bring it up, though. At least not yet. When she'd spoken of finding a way to keep Oor from coming after Rheinhard, she had not meant permanently yet. Just for a while.

He did, at least, agree to try to eat, and she sighed with relief, standing up from the broken bed to wrap her arms around his waist and settle her head against his chest. "Thank you," she whispered, taking comfort in the sound of his beating heart.

The moment was interrupted by the irate innkeeper, though, and Seteta sighed again--this time in exhausted frustration--as she stepped away from Chaceledon. Once the little spat was over, Seteta just scowled as she went to support Chaceledon, leading the way to the other room.

"I know you are a dragon and a predator, sehejib," she muttered quietly, "but perhaps, at least until we make contact with your family, you should try to not make enemies everywhere."

She would speak with the innkeeper after she'd gotten Chaceledon settled for the night. She needed to speak with the cook as well, about breakfast for Chaceledon in the morning. They couldn't risk the innkeeper actually trying to contact Oor, and there were other ways to deal with the problem at hand anyway.

The new room was not quite as nice as the previous one, but Seteta couldn't blame the innkeeper. Best not to risk ruining two of his highest-earning rooms in a single day.

"Come, sehejib," Seteta said, patting the bed. "Rest. I will let you know when the bath is ready."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon was happy to curl up on the bed, even though he knew Seteta was probably about the ruin the fine piece of intimidation he’d set up. He’d have to talk to her about ruining their image...especially before they hit Annuakat. The innkeeper was supposed to drop Oor’s name, and begin hinting that Oor’s husband had been allowed to go on a rampage. It made him look even less in control...the first card of the house.

He settled against the headboard. “Darling...I know you mean well, but try not to smooth things over. I did it on purpose. I could have calmed him with a few of my hairpins. There’s a reason I didn’t, and it’s a game you’re going to have to learn.” he said, patting the bed next to him. “What will that innkeeper be complaining about for the next six months? Oor’s out of control mate. I need to begin eroding the seats of power he has been building in Amol Kalit, and it starts with rumor. Every noble house and fae family have ears in the streets. What I need those ears to begin hearing is that Oor has lost his edge.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta settled beside him for a few moments, her lips pinching as she listened to what he said.

"Sehejib," she said gently, patiently. "There is one flaw in your plan. You're assuming that the innkeeper will know that you were Oor's mate. Unless he's overheard me using your name, he doesn't know it, and the common humans of the desert don't often get their affairs mixed up with the fae. All he knows is some random dragon--and dragons have rarely been seen here--destroyed part of his inn and told him to charge it to an estate he's never heard of."

Then she smiled and reached for his hand, lacing her fingers with his.

"Besides," she smirked, "wouldn't a better way to discredit him be to let the whole world know that you're no longer his? That some little Abtati youngling from the desert managed to infiltrate his house and burn his marriage robes?

"Give me a day" --her eyes twinkled-- "and our story will be the talk of the town."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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“And put a very large target on your back. You’ll gain some admiration from the likes of Persian and others, but the ones coming for you to ingratiate themselves with Oor are not the type I want within miles of you.” Chaceledon kissed her palm. “Thankfully, both Witherhold and Oor are well known here. If they aren’t, then the clients that come here will know them. It’s a chance, as you say, that it will land on deaf ears.”

He considered her plan. It was intelligent, in a way. It would undermine Oor and demonstrate that the wraith was losing his touch...especially if a young woman marched into Witherhold and burned the robes of his mate. It was a story people would whisper, and admire. Seteta was beautiful, smart, and brave beyond her years. Chaceledon just didn’t want to put her on the pillory for it. Then again, she had faced Oor. What worse danger was there? He finally had the resources to protect her.

“Maybe you’re right. I’m not the weak man I was...I have my magic back. Anything or anyone who comes after you will have to deal with me. Who knows? You might even have Rosebury’s favor after pulling a stunt like that. The fae lord of luck.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"Do I not already have a target on me?" Seteta asked, resting her head on Chaceledon's shoulder. "We're obviously going around together. People will either assume that you are having a rather public tantrum and testing Oor's patience, or we can let them know the truth: that I stole you from him completely. If he cannot even protect his mate, then that utterly weakens him."

Oor had never deserved him as a mate in the first place. The wraith had not wooed Chaceledon, and then had the gall to chastise Seteta for not knowing dragon culture.

She gently squeezed Chaceledon's hand when he mentioned his magic.

"You might have it back, sehejib," she murmured, "but you can't overextend yourself. No more shifting, no more flying, for at least two days. Then we'll start working it in gradually. I know that the magical nature of your form may make it seem effortless, but your physical body still hasn't had these things demanded of it for so very long. Besides, I am not without the means to defend myself, nor am I without connections in Amol-Kalit. The advantage to my tribe's dissolution is that I now have friends and kin in many tribes, not just one."

One of the innkeeper's hired folk arrived with hot bathwater, then.

"How are you feeling?" she asked Chaceledon quietly. "Any dizziness? Weakness? I can help you bathe, but I need to run down and talk to the cook before the kitchen closes for the night."

Chaceledon
 
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Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon leaned against her, settling his head on top of hers. She was right. Oor would have been spreading rumors with equal hatred. If he had been trying to protect her from a poor reputation, he’d been doing a bad job of it. He did smirk at the mention of a tantrum. “Considering how well you know me...a tantrum isnt outside of the realm of possibility.” he joked. He had to agree with her about his magic, but it frustrated him.

“My darling, I know what you are saying and you’re very much correct. I shouldn’t be so eager and I haven’t taken care of myself. But it is...as though you couldn’t feel the earth for years. No rocks, soil, sand, nothing. Then someone placed you in a newly filled field with all of what you needed. I do desperately want to fly...but it’s got to wait.”

He sat up properly when the bath was filled, and kissed Seteta’s cheek. “You worry so.” he teased her. There wasn’t a way in hell he was admitting weakness in front of another person, not when he’d already played a strong card against the innkeeper. He rose slowly but purposefully, with the grace of someone very much used to dizzy spells, and eyed the man who had filled the bath. “What is this..?”

He lifted a bar of tallow soap. “The uh....soap?” The man said helpfully. Chaceledon bounced it off his forehead.

“Clearly you’ve never seen a decent bar. There is a vendor down below in the market who sells lavender soap. Get a bar of that, at least two types of oil and one of them had better contain lemongrass. Ambergris and lavender bases are best. Blue glass bottles; they fester in clear glass. I also need a collection of glass rods; any vendor working in cheap jewelry will have it. If you find pumice stones bring me two. Leave ten gold coins, a small bottle of whiskey, and sprigs of garlic near the door of the room.” he snapped.

The man stared helplessly until Chaceledon tossed him the quartz necklace from Seteta’s things. “Pay for them with that.” he growled. “Get them before the water cools and you keep both your eyes.”

The man awkwardly caught the necklace and scurried off. Chaceledon tossed his hair over one shoulder and looked at Seteta.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta gave a longsuffering sigh as he playfully chided her for worrying. Half of Maraan had already heard about the dragon passing out and knocking a hole in the wall of the inn. Not to mention all the people who had to dodge his leg and tail in the stairwell. But... she wouldn't mention that to him quite yet. Sometimes male egos were... strangely fragile things.

When Chaceledon stood and began berating the servant about soap and oils, while she felt sorry for the poor man, an amused and relieved smile flickered across her face. If Chaceledon was being picky, he was feeling more like himself again.

Once the servant was scrambling out the door, Seteta stood and stretched. "I will go speak with the cook while you wait on your soap and oils," she said with an amused smirk. "But what are the coins, whiskey, and garlic for?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon chuckled. “If he’s smart he’ll hurry.” he teased, perching on the bed and beginning to undress. “If he’s cleverer than he looks he’ll bring me a bit of salted beef to nibble on while I relax.” He finger combed his hair, tutting at imagined slights and snags in the silky wave. His hair was well taken care of even through their rough journey, but any dragon would pick out a few split ends and dull streaks from a hundred paces and conclude he’d been on a harrowing journey.

“The coins, whiskey and garlic are for the Lord of Luck. Gold is Aluicious Rosebury’s element; he sees through it, can spy on a man through his coin purse and influence the toss of the dice. A friendly fae lord, and one you ought be introduced to. It’s polite. We owe at least a little of this to pure luck...and I like to stay on his good side.” Chaceledon explained.

The dragon only had to wait a good half hour or so before the exhausted servant returned with his things. Finally he was able to bathe and scrub...it wouldn’t eliminate the need to bathe in sand, or any dry, rough material. It would make his human form a little more bearable. He curled up in the bath and rested his cheek against the rim of the tub. He dozed lazily, hair pinned up and freshly washed.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta gave a quiet murmur of appreciation as Chaceledon began undressing, but instead of lingering to watch she quietly ducked out of the room and hurried down to the kitchen. Even if Chaceledon was happy to intimidate the town into catering to his whims, Seteta was not comfortable relying on that completely. As she spoke with the cook about what she needed prepared for food the next day and how often, Seteta quietly mended cracked and broken clay pots with her magic, as well as a deep crack that had made using the inn's bread oven a bit of a challenge in recent weeks.

When she spotted the servant returning with the things Chaceledon had... requested, she intercepted the man, and took the bath supplies into the room herself, leaving him the task of setting out the items for the Lord of Luck.

While Chaceledon bathed, she quietly lolled on the bed, beginning to construct a story in her head, and figuring out what images would go best with it. Her dragon might have overheard snatches of words and phrases as she began to rehearse and time things.

She had not been joking when she said to give her a single day, and their romance would be the talk of Maraan. A week, and it would be the talk of Amol-Kalit's major caravan routes. A month, and all the desert would know.

And to that end, as she'd spoken in the kitchen with the cook, Seteta had decided to delay their departure one full day. That would both give her the time she needed to acquire the goods she necessary for Chaceledon's nourishment, as well as find a suitable caravan with a trustworthy guide--ideally one she knew, though she would settle for one she knew by reputation. But she also needed to spread the word about town that an Abtati illusionist would perform the next evening.

Eventually, she looked over at Chaceledon in the bath, smiling as he quietly dozed. "Do you want to come to bed, sehejib?" Seteta asked. "I can dry you off."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon watched her, though he was happy to sink into ritual. Washing and conditioning his hair, a longer deep condition, rubbing away all the rough spots with his pumice stones, and relaxing. She was up to something, and he couldn’t wait to see what she would bring to the table. He had been a little afraid of involving her in Court politics, but maybe she would take to it? He needed to get her dressed properly. The things he’d picked were clean and new, but not exactly presentable to anything higher than a cattle baron.

He lifted his head and stood, wrapping a towel around himself and picking up the bundle of glass she’d brought him. He sat on the bed, leaning over her and giving her a kiss. “And what is it you’re planning you little minx? Which caravan are we leaving with tomorrow?” he asked playfully, straightening up.

The flame he used to soften the glass was no stern plume, but an avatar of heat. It was a narrow blast that melted the stick in his fingers like stick candy on a hot day, and he was able to form the nails on one hand quickly. There was no fussing and reheating. The glass was hot enough to glow white. He waved a hand casually to begin cooling the elegant gold nails he was fashioning for himself.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta melted under Chaceledon's kiss, pouting when he pulled away. She rolled over onto her stomach, feet kicking in the air, and watched as he began fashioning his glass nails.

"We're going to wait till the day after tomorrow to leave," she said. "I wasn't able to get out to find a caravan between... everything else. But tomorrow, I need your help. I'm going to put on a show."

She fell back into her musings again for a while, still quietly mumbling and rehearsing. But eventually, she looked back up at Chaceledon. The sight of him tending to himself, using his flame to mold his nails, made her stomach flutter. Especially after what had happened earlier. He was all right.

Quietly, she shifted on the bed, and stood, stripping off her new abaya, and coming to stand before him. She wanted him. Wanted to touch him. Wanted to be consumed by him again.

"Sehejib," Seteta whispered, eyes bright with desire. "Come to bed."



In the morning, Seteta rose with the sun, humming quietly to herself as she bathed and dressed. She pressed a soft kiss to Chaceledon's forehead before she went down to the kitchen, then brought up a tray of food for them to share. More broth and rice, and diced fruit, and a pot of jasmine tea, and scrambled eggs with hot peppers, like the ones they'd shared outside of Fal'Addas, on the side.

Chaceledon's servings were half the size of hers. She wanted him to eat more, but for now she was going to settle for him eating several small portions of food throughout the day. She had finally figured out that part of the problem was he didn't like feeling full.

"Good morning, my love," she smiled cheerily as she came back into the room with the food. "I need you to eat all of your eggs, drink all the broth, and have at least a couple bites of fruit. Then, we're going to the market. I need clothes fit for putting on a performance."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon smiled at her, and finished off his last thumbnail with an artful flick of his wrist. He listened to her for a while, adding little adornments with glass fragments to his nails. His attention was immediately seized when she pulled her abaya over her head. A slow smile spread across his face, his eyes following her. He admired her form, and her grace...he could have spent hours watching those legs saunter across the floor.

“Gladly...” Chaceledon beckoned her closer with glass claws.

______________________

The dragon woke lazily, sprawled in bed after a night of lovemaking. He smiled and curled up when Seteta came with food. Of course she thought to serve him breakfast. “Good morning love.” he sat up and stretched, taking his fingers through his hair and shaking out his mane. He looked slightly disappointed at the expectation of eating, but she hadn’t given him too much.

“What sort of performance are you putting on? That will help me dictate the outfit.” He pointed out, pouring himself a mug of tea.
Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta smiled softly, settling cross-legged on the bed, the tray of food between her and Chaceledon. She was relieved that he had not, so far, protested any aspect of the meal. Her main goal was to get foods with lots of nutrients into him, even if it wasn't much. She and the healer had decided that quality was far more important than quantity, in this case, though she'd brought the rice in case the broth and the tea were too much liquid for him all at once.

“What sort of performance are you putting on? That will help me dictate the outfit.” He pointed out, pouring himself a mug of tea.

"Storytelling," she answered with a sly grin. "I need an outfit that is eyecatching, but not flamboyant. Some skin is fine. In the past, I've worn a knee-length skirt or shalwar with a shorter fitted top. I need to be able to move around easily, and to have my feet in the sand."

Seteta started eating her own breakfast, glancing over at Chaceledon's food from time to time. He was making progress, but she could think of a little more incentive for him.

"If you finish all your food," she batted her eyes, "I'll let you do my makeup for the performance too."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon sipped his tea, and regarded her over the mug. Let him do her makeup? Like she would refuse him in the first place. He hadn’t seen her wear much more than utilitarian dress since they’d started the adventure. Of course, he’d made her look fantastic in the shop and could do so again. He had a plan, however, to give her story more credence.

He picked at his fruit and rice, and ate the eggs. Filling up on tea and broth, relatively low-calorie items, was an old trick. The eggs he felt were a legitimate indulgence; he needed the oils to repair his scales. Much as he’d basked in his draconian beauty, he had noticed dull spots and scars.

Chaceledon set aside the tea mug. “I plan to dress you as a dragon would be. I don’t think it’s ever been done before; an elf in traditional draconian garb. Thankfully it’s tradition for feet to be bare, as we do get most of our heat from the sun. It allows us to dress in thicker layers without worrying about losing too much contact with hot sand.” he explained. “A few brightly colored layers, we clean your hands and feet, and I get to do your hair and makeup how I please.”

Chaceledon finished off his eggs, and set the plate aside. He stood up to dress himself, and quickly weave his hair into a braid off to the side. He couldn’t have it getting in the way while he made her robes. Or at the very least, while he cleaned her hands and feet. Ye gods, could they even preserve those nails? He picked up her hand and frowned. “Holy cats, your hands are like Rheinhard’s. I have my work cut out for me, and I’ll have to make you some nails. Don’t worry, I’ll cook them.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta scrunched her nose as she frowned. "Draconian garb?" she murmured thoughtfully. "Will it be loose enough for me to sweep my arms around and take large, gliding steps? I was thinking more of garb we could easily find in the market, at least for this performance. We have to acquire the clothing, find a caravan to leave with tomorrow, and prepare for storytelling, as well as spreading the word."

She smiled, though, as he finished off at least the eggs. Now she would just have to convince him to eat everything she brought him today. Her plan was to start with four small meals, and work up to six meals a day. After that, she'd work on convincing him to eat a little more than he did before with at least a couple of those meals.

"You can do my makeup however you please," she agreed. "But I get the final say on the hair."

He picked up her hand and frowned. “Holy cats, your hands are like Rheinhard’s. I have my work cut out for me, and I’ll have to make you some nails. Don’t worry, I’ll cook them.”

Seteta scowled and pulled her hand back. "No nails," she said. "You can clean up what I have, and perhaps tint them, but I have to be able to rely on my hands for this. The last time you did my nails it took days to get used to the feel of them. I can't do that right now."

She glanced out the window at the lightening sky. "Let's get to the marketplace first. You can get the materials you'll need for my clothes, and I'll interview some caravan guides. We can do the beauty stuff when we get back in a few hours, and then I'll have to spend the afternoon attracting a crowd."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon nodded. “I won’t make it overwhelming or heavy. Light linens should fit well with you. If freedom of movement is a priority, I’m really not concerned.” he said lightly, and frowned when she tugged her hand away. At least let me buff them and clip them; they look like you’ve spent a day at the stockyards.” He tutted. He wasn’t always over-ornate. Perhaps he was going to have to prove to her that while heavy and ornamental was his style, he was also swiftly learning hers.

He kissed her cheek and got up to get dressed, choosing a simple black under robe that would allow him to soak up the sun. While he didn’t want to call too much attention to himself, neither did he want to look poor. He selected brass pieces from his limited supply of hair pins, and chose a simple design with one or two complex pins. His gold nails stood out, but his robe only had soft yellow designs that sharply contrasted with the black. He sat on the bed, and combed through the remaining things he had.

Six hairpins, four necklaces, two bangles, eight outfits if he counted under robes and small clothes. It wasn’t a lot. He had some coin but this was going to be a budgeting challenge. He tucked away his things back in the pocket dimension, and folded his arms across his chest. Never had one designer worked with so little; at least no draconian designer.

“Let’s go see what we can find.” Chaceledon told her, patiently waiting for her to get ready.

The market was a busy place even in early morning. The evenings and early mornings were the only times the desert was forgiving to mammals, and the air was fresh and cool. The burning sun was beginning to make an appearance over the mountains but wouldn’t reach its full fury for a bit yet. Chaceledon ignored the vegetable and meat vendors desperately trying to offload their goods before the sun wilted their goods, and swept toward anything that resembled clothing.

He scrutinized the fabrics closely, with the air of a noble forced to slum it. He looked down his nose at several bolts of expensive cloth he was presented with, even if he was perfectly happy with them. He was playing a game, pretending that the seller just didn’t understand what style he was going for. It made the poor woman look like a fool, even though Chaceledon might have been perfectly willing to do business with her tastes. Every pattern given a pursed lip or a mocking sneer, until the frustrated woman finally pulled out something he was genuinely interested in. A light linen robe, embroidered with sand dunes and a gentle sun. Chaceledon gave her a slight smile, and paid a third what it was worth.

As they looked for an under layer to compliment it, they passed a stall selling slaves. In particular, Pedeon slaves. Chaceledon tried not to look at them; he couldn’t even begin to afford them. Pedeon pets were highly specialized slaves trained for decades in their respective fields. Even here, they had cool water to drink, and were sitting on rugs and cushions. Each had a collar around his or her throat, complex and made of precious stones and metals.

Asaya!”

Chaceledon stopped dead in his tracks and turned to look at them. That was the draconian word for master. He stared at the pet who had spoken; a young elven woman, groomed to perfection, and wearing a collar made of amethyst and spun glass. The collar wasn’t one of his, and she was far too young to have known him before his capture. She might have been Abtati. He looked at Seteta questioningly. Did they ignore her or move on?

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta rolled her eyes, but smiled fondly. "I just said you could clean them up. For you, isn't buffing and clipping part of that?"

She watched as Chaceledon dressed, gnawing nervously at her lips as he shuffled things in and out of his... closet. "Doesn't Oor control that?" she asked. "You should be prepared that he'll take away your access to it completely. I'm honestly surprised he hasn't already."

She quickly combed her hair once more, and looped her headscarf over her head and around her neck, not bothering to hide her face this time. They'd all seen her yesterday anyway.

When they finally made it to the marketplace, fortunately before the sun had risen too terribly high in the sky, Seteta watched--sometimes in quiet awe and other times in quiet horror--as Chaceledon haggled and bartered.

Eventually, she'd had more than she could stomach--even having been taught to drive a hard bargain, as a way of desert life--and Seteta wandered through the marketplace on her own. She stayed within sight of Chaceledon, but chatted with the townspeople and the market vendors, asking about the known caravan guides who were currently around, and finding out which ones to avoid.

She wandered back to Chaceledon just as he finally finished haggling for a single robe. Seteta gave the vendor a gentle smile, and looped her arm through Chaceledon's as they stepped away.

"That was a bit brutal, sehejib," she muttered, but said nothing else on the matter.

As they searched more--though Seteta wasn't completely sure of the need for an underrobe, despite Chaceledon's insistence that it was absolutely necessary--she made sure that he stayed hydrated, having wheedled some chilled, fruit-infused water from a vendor in exchange for repairing some clay pots.

It was impossible to miss the stall of pets for sale, not after having helped retrieved all the discarded collars at the pet house, and after meeting Kennedi. She saw Chaceledon's resolve to not even glance in their direction.

She was surprised when one of them called out, and Chaceledon froze, the word clearly meaning something to him.

"Asaya?" she repeated, her hand slipping into the crook of his elbow. "Does that mean something to you?"

Seteta shifted around to where she could see both Chaceledon and the pets, now eyeing them warily.

"Could it possibly be a trap?" she whispered. "Some way for Oor to ensnare you again? Or... do you think Persian might be trying to get you a message? Possibly about Rheinhard?"

Her brow creased for a moment as another thought occurred to her.

"Or your dahn?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon raised an eyebrow at her estimation of his bartering skills. She didn’t find that attractive? He’d definitely slept with a few dragons for being able to reduce a shop owner to tears over a bangle...then being able to make the poor person thank them for pennies. It was a rush in the way some men found combat; every insult and set of his jaw a riposte, every sneer a swift thrust. His disappointment should feel like a lash across the back.

How did the Abtati do their shopping if they hadn’t made anyone sob under a table?

The pet calling out to him brought up a million questions. Questions that Seteta voiced perfectly. Was this a plant? A trap? They were close enough to the deep desert, but also far too close to where Oor would have traveled. Was this pet trying to get to him? But...Oor only knew a few words in draconian. The Volker’s wouldn’t be volunteering that information so readily.

As if sensing his hesitancy, she lifted her chin. Confused, Chaceledon frowned...then his eyes widened. She had scales under her chin, like the gorget of a hummingbird. Purple scales. His scales. “Asaya!” She called again. Chaceledon looked at Seteta helplessly.

“She...may have worked in my estate. Dragon servants are marked with scales from their masters. But...she’s too young. It’s impossible.” he muttered. Asaya means ‘Master’.”

He gently guided Seteta closer, but his guard was up. He was no cold beast now, but the full heat of the sun was on his back. He’d eaten a decent breakfast and had enjoyed the chilled fruit drink Seteta had bought him. He could snap her neck without wasting an inch of his good health. Surprisingly, the pet dropped to the ground as he approached. She was on her knees, fingertips lightly on the ground, head bowed low, in a perfect draconian bow. “You were raised in a draconian household. What are you doing here..? In a market of all places.” Chaceledon said carefully.

“I am from your father’s house, asaya. These are his scales. I recognized you from your portrait.” She said. “The one your mother keeps of you. I dusted it every day.”

Chaceledon blinked, and glared daggers at the man running the booth. “You’d dare steal a servant from my dahn?” he snarled.

“Please asaya, he did nothing. Your father cast us out of the estate; he is dissolving your property.”

Chaceledon’s face turned ashen, and he looked like he might faint again.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta sucked in a breath when the pet lifted her chin, recognized the hue of the scales there. She stayed close at Chaceledon's side as he questioned the girl. When he snarled at the man running the stall, she clutched Chaceledon's hand.

When the pet said that Chaceledon's father was dissolving his estate, Seteta sighed. She'd hoped that Oor had simply been bluffing.

Chaceledon's face was ashen when she looked up at him.

"Sehejib," she said, tugging at his sleeve. "Do you need to sit down? If you faint in the middle of the street, you're too heavy for me to haul around."

She wasn't trying to make light of the moment, but she did need to snap him out of his shock somehow, and hopefully her gentle teasing would do so.

Seteta turned to the pet. "Do you know why the estate is being dissolved?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon was stock still, and grey. Dissolving his estate? He was destitute. He was no longer some prodigal son seeking his family. He had no fortune. He had no servants. There was no closet waiting for him, no boiling pit of amethyst sand. No staff that had been quietly keeping up the house and waiting for him. Gone. If they were dissolving the estate they would do it quietly, and as though he’d never been born.

Seteta’s comment felt like it was wafting through a wax plug to his ears, or through water. Long and far away, her jibe about his weight didn’t even register.

The pet, concerned but unable to leave the stall, looked to Seteta. “His beloved mother has despaired of ever seeing him again, and she is beginning to lose her standing among the family for mourning someone who will never return. If I knew, I would have told her, but...when rumors drifted on the wind to her, by the time she got there, asaya had disappeared again. She believes him to be a shadow she chases.” The pet explained.

Chaceledon grabbed the support beam for the stall. “If she’s given up...”

Asaya your father and uncle, blessed under the sky, have told her to give you up. But all is not lost! You live and breathe.” The pet encouraged. “I will try and find you again. If I don’t sell here, I can return to Pedeo.”

Chaceledon looked at Seteta.
“We need to put on this performance. Not just to anger Oor. We have to let my family know I draw breath. If she’s been chasing shadows, give her one with a bit of light.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta's stomach knotted when Chaceledon made no snippy remark to her. He was thoroughly stunned.

She listened as the pet explained the circumstances, and a quiet sigh of relief escaped her. It was not because Chaceledon had been declared hedahn, as Oor had implied. It was because they'd practically given up all hope of Chaceledon's return. Unless... his father had hidden it from his mother. But for now, Seteta would choose to believe otherwise.

Perhaps they didn't even know he was still alive.

"Sehejib," Seteta whispered, concerned, clutching his arm as he wavered on his feet for a moment before he grabbed the support beam.

Asaya your father and uncle, blessed under the sky, have told her to give you up. But all is not lost! You live and breathe.” The pet encouraged. “I will try and find you again. If I don’t sell here, I can return to Pedeo.”

Chaceledon looked at Seteta.
“We need to put on this performance. Not just to anger Oor. We have to let my family know I draw breath. If she’s been chasing shadows, give her one with a bit of light.”

"Do not worry," she said with a gentle smile, bringing his hand to her mouth to kiss his palm. "I will make sure people talk of us from the Seret mountains to Pedeo."

Seteta glanced back over to the pet. "Are pets allowed into Pedeo without their owners?" she asked. "If... if somehow we could acquire her, then perhaps she could go straight back to Pedeo on the next caravan. If she recently worked for your family, then she should be able to contact them in Pedeo. You said they have a manor there, right?"

She knew there was very little, even now, that would convince Chaceledon to divert his plans away from helping Rheinhard. This news of Chaceledon's family was heartbreaking, but Rheinhard's situation was life or death.

But if they could get word to Chaceledon's mother that he would be in Annuakat shortly... that would be ideal.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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The pet smile sadly. “I have no owner. I have been returned to Pedeo, and put up for resale here. Since you are alive and not dead, I’ll ask Kennedi about reinstating me to your house, asaya. Who is this?” She nodded to Seteta. “She wears no collar.”

Chaceledon took a few deep breaths and stood up, straightening himself and taking Seteta’s hand. “She is your asayi, my chosen mate.” he explained, his voice still a bit ragged. He nodded in thanks to the pet, who bowed again and returned to the rest of the pets in the stall. Chaceledon watched her for a moment. Well, at least none of his staff had wavered. He felt a slight pang of guilt for the original staff, now dead and gone of old age, that had suffered his tantrums.

He refolded the robe in his arms and took another breath. “Makeup, you’re in desperate need of makeup.” he told Seteta, trying to distract himself. He had to bargain with the makeup stall, and ended up trading two of his last hairpins to get a pot of black kohl, a small pallet box of pigments mixed with mica powder, a small tin of lip stain sheets, and gold leaf sheets for her nails.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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When the girl mentioned Kennedi, Seteta's stomach knotted again. Kennedi had known that Chaceledon was alive. She was uncertain that the man would follow through on that request. Who knew what Oor and Persian were doing with this situation.

She gently squeezed Chaceledon's hand when he took hers, smiling when he named her asayi. Even with the somber mood, warmth filled her as he publicly declared her to be his chosen mate.

"My name is Seteta," she told the pet before they parted ways. "When you see Kennedi, remind him of what I asked when I met him in Witherhold. He will know what you speak of. And... if you see Chaceledon's dahn... tell them we are headed to Annuakat. If all goes well there, then we will be heading to Pedeo after that. But it might be some matter of weeks from now, depending."

Then she turned back to Chaceledon, watching him quietly for a moment as he gathered his composure.

He refolded the robe in his arms and took another breath. “Makeup, you’re in desperate need of makeup.” he told Seteta, trying to distract himself.

"Yes, sehejib," she murmured with a smile, looping her arm through his again.

She stayed with him for this venture, partially to keep an eye on his mood after that, and also because she knew if he couldn't check the makeup against her skin, he'd be a bit put-out. In the end, she'd tried to protest the gold leaf for her nails--there was no need for that much extravagance--but he'd had none of it.

At last, though, the haggling was finished, and Seteta turned to Chaceledon.

"Do you want to come with me to find a caravan to Annuakat, or head back to the inn, and I'll join you there shortly?"

Chaceledon